General anaesthesia  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

General anaesthesia (or general anesthesia) is a medically induced coma and loss of protective reflexes resulting from the administration of one or more general anaesthetic agents. A variety of medications may be administered, with the overall aim of ensuring sleep, amnesia, analgesia, relaxation of skeletal muscles, and loss of control of reflexes of the autonomic nervous system. The optimal combination of these agents for any given patient and procedure is typically selected by an anaesthesiologist or another provider such as an anaesthesiologist assistant or nurse anaesthetist, in consultation with the patient and the medical or dental practitioner performing the operative procedure.

History

History of general anesthesia

Attempts at producing a state of general anaesthesia can be traced throughout recorded history in the writings of the ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Indians, and Chinese. During the Middle Ages, which correspond roughly to what is sometimes referred to as the Islamic Golden Age, scientists and other scholars made significant advances in science and medicine in the Muslim world and Eastern world, while their European counterparts also made important advances.

The European Renaissance saw significant advances in anatomy and surgical technique. However, despite all this progress, surgery remained a treatment of last resort. Largely because of the associated pain, many patients with surgical disorders chose certain death rather than undergo surgery. Although there has been a great deal of debate as to who deserves the most credit for the discovery of general anaesthesia, it is generally agreed that certain scientific discoveries in the late 18th and early 19th centuries were critical to the eventual introduction and development of modern anaesthetic techniques.

Two enormous leaps occurred in the late 19th century, which together allowed the transition to modern surgery. An appreciation of the germ theory of disease led rapidly to the development and application of antiseptic techniques in surgery. Antisepsis, which soon gave way to asepsis, reduced the overall morbidity and mortality of surgery to a far more acceptable rate than in previous eras. Concurrent with these developments were the significant advances in pharmacology and physiology which led to the development of general anaesthesia and the control of pain.

In the 20th century, the safety and efficacy of general anaesthesia was improved by the routine use of tracheal intubation and other advanced airway management techniques. Significant advances in monitoring and new anaesthetic agents with improved pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic characteristics also contributed to this trend. Finally, standardized training programs for anaesthesiologists and nurse anaesthetists emerged during this period.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "General anaesthesia" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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